The Spanish Mountain Gold project near Likely is moving ahead.
The provincial and federal environmental assessment agencies have accepted SMG’s project description which means it has entered the “pre-application” phase of the environmental assessment and permitting process. The company says public meetings on the project will begin shortly.
Chris Brodie, manager of environmental services at Knight Piesold Consulting, a consultant for SMG, says the pre-application phase includes everything the company does up to the point where it submits its application to both governments which isn’t expected until mid 2012.
The company’s submission of a project description triggers a harmonized environmental assessment process where the provincial environmental assessment office decides whether an environmental review is required – in this case it has determined a review is necessary – and the federal agency determines what type of review is required according to its legislation and mill throughput.
In a letter to company officials confirming the requirement for a EA, the provincial environmental assessment office writes the, “…proposed project constitutes a reviewable project…” which has the potential for “significant adverse effects” and therefore an assessment must be undertaken and an environmental assessement certificate issued before the propposed project may proceed.
For the federal review the SMG project will undergo a comprehensive review – a standard review for mining projects in Canada, according to Brodie.
When Spanish Mountain Gold representatives met in Williams Lake in June they told the audience that their meetings in the various communities were not part of mandated consultation, rather an attempt to inform citizens of the mine and the process.
The formal environmental assessment process will offer additional opportunities for public input into the project.
The open-pit gold mine is anticipated to be operational by Jan. 2014. SMG expects the mine could produce more than 200,000 ounces of gold per year with a mine life of 10 years.
The company concluded a preliminary economic assessment in Dec. 2010 and has completed 600 drill holes on the property. It expects to outlay $240 million in capital expenditures throughout the 18 months the mine is being built.
In the construction phase, that could begin in 2013, approximately 600 temporary jobs could be created and when operational the mine could create approximately 284 jobs.
The company and the Williams Lake Indian band have signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the First Nations involvement in all aspects of the mine’s development. Spanish Mountain Gold says an MOU with Xat’sull First Nation remains outstanding; however, they are hopeful one will be reached. The company has four exploration properties – two near Prince George and one near 100 Mile House
A project description describes the technical, economic, social, environmental, heritage and health components of the construction and operation of the proposed mine.